By Ian Sampson
You probably know that Leadership Development Programs are being questioned on several fronts for not delivering what they promise.
As a former designer and manager of LDPs for large corporates, I know that while senior executives often say they want to build leadership capability, what they want even more from LDP experiences is a sense of managerial community and continuity, loyalty to the organisation and its current crop of bosses and the ability to have those below them deliver. Leadership skills are often the vehicle, the Trojan Horse, for developing these deeper, seen-to-be-more desirable managerial attributes.
Last week I had the privilege of guiding a group of executives in building their leadership capabilities in an a very different way to the standard LDP.
As we talked, different members of the group took in three pieces of learning which go to the heart of what Leadership Development Programs really should be focussed on.
We sat together in a pleasant room. We talked about leadership and what it takes to “be” a leader. After awhile, a group member said:
“It’s not what I do; it’s who I am.”
That was a breakthrough for some group members.
We talked some more. I suggested some places to look inside themselves for wisdom. I reminded them of Aristotle’s saying:
“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
“This is hard to do alone,” one said after a while. “Can we do some work on this and meet again?” “Can you mentor me, please?” asked another at the end of the evening.
We talked some more and another member of the group quite profoundly said: “I’ve just completed a major course of study about business. I see now that learning about some-thing does not make me some-one. And I see that wisdom comes from shared reflection, not just sitting in a dark room thinking by myself. And what I also see is that I have to do something with this. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t matter a fig unless someone like me uses it for something. And I want to provide leadership that helps others make their lives better.”
I think it fair to say that most of the members of the group finished the conversation with a transformed understanding of themselves as leaders. For them now, good leaders learn, with mentoring, to work continuously on being aware of the world they live in, of being mindful of themselves and to be intentional about making a difference for others.
Ian is a Cause & Effective Associate and a highly sought after Non-Executive Director and Advisor who specialises in solving complex and highly sensitive people, leadership and organisational development issues.